Nance O’Neil (Nance O'Neil)

Nance O’Neil

Actress. Born Gertrude Lamson, Nance O’Neil’s religious father, an auctioneer, denounced his daughter in church for going on the stage, and asked the congregation to pray for her. She became a major stage star, however, who played Lady Macbeth, Hedda Gabler and Camille. Beautiful and tall (nearly six feet), Nance O’Neil was rumored to be the lover of accused axe murderess Lizzie Borden. A notorious spendthrift always in financial trouble, O’Neil was one of the first of her generation of actresses to embrace motion pictures. Signing with producer William Fox, she starred in a 1915 screen version of Leo Tolstoy’s “The Kreutzer Sonata”. Although she received favorable reviews, the veteran star was upstaged by the colorful Theda Bara, and it was Bara who would become Fox’s major dramatic star, not the aging O’Neil. Nance continued to appear in films through 1917 – including playing the Czarina in “The Fall of the Romanoffs” – but moviegoers never truly warmed up to her and she returned to the stage. O’Neil, whose voice was exceptional, was back in Hollywood by 1929 in sound pictures, supporting John Gilbert in “His Glorious Night.” O’Neil lent her presence to scores of early talkies, including appearing as the mother superior in “Call of the Flesh,” the Grand Mere in “Their Mad Moment” (1931), and unbilled as Mrs. Von Stael in “Westward Passage.” Nance O’Neil was briefly the wife of actor Alfred Hickman (1872-1931). Nance O’Neil died at the Actor’s Home in Englewood, New Jersey, in 1965. (bio by: Barry Sharpe)


  • October, 08, 1874
  • USA


  • February, 02, 1965
  • USA


  • Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)
  • California
  • USA

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